Former prime minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda may be 81 years old, but he becomes hyper-active during elections. This octogenarian, who has seen many ups and downs in his five-decade-long political life, is one of JD(S)’s star campaigners and tours the state extensively to woo voters.
While other netas take the air route to reach out to people, Gowda prefers the road. A strict vegetarian, he survives on ragi mudde (ragi balls) and soppina saaru (spinach sambar) while campaigning. If they are not available, he eats just fruits. “I will not eat food from restaurants while campaigning. My party workers know my diet and keep ragi mudde and sambar ready before I reach the villages,” he says.
He says this diet helps him remain “hale and healthy” on the road.
Recalling a poll campaign in North Karnataka during the previous elections, he says, “I reached a remote village in Gulbarga around 11 at night. People were waiting for me to serve hot jolad roti (jawar roti). When I told them I prefer ragi mudde, they somehow arranged it for me.”
During the elections, Gowda starts his day at 6 am with a light breakfast of sprouts and a glass of milk. After visiting villages and addressing gatherings, he eats his humble meal of ragi mudde and soppina saaru, before setting out again. Sometimes, his day ends only at 2 or 3 am.
Though he loves travelling, Gowda finds sleep hard to come by while campaigning and often takes sleeping pills. But he doesn’t find it too cumbersome. “I have to lead my party from the front. I love meeting people and this happens only during elections,” he says.